Survey notes rise of 'plasticphobia' in Europe

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Three quarters of shoppers across Europe say they prefer to buy products with environmentally-friendly packaging, according to the findings of a recent survey.

In its European Shopper Survey published 14 Nov, US-based market research group IRI said the 'plasticphobia' was rooted in the increasing awareness of European consumers about the environmental impact of their purchases. 

According to the survey, some 81% of respondents in Italy said they would buy products with environmentally-friendly packaging, followed by 75% in Spain and 74% in Greece and France. Only 62% of German consumers said they would buy products with recyclable packaging.

The survey interviewed 3,334 consumers in Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands on five macro-categories of packaged food, fresh produce, beverages, frozen food, and personal & beauty care.

Shopper were divided into three age groups – young millennials (18-24 years), older millennials (25-34 years) and Generation X (over 35 years).

According to the findings of the survey, compared to older shoppers, young Millenials are less concerned about buying products which “respect the environment.” The survey did not give a definition for the term.

Similarly, just 30% of young Millenials would shop locally for ‘sustainability reasons’, compared to 33% of those above 35.

“There is increasing awareness of the impact that use of plastic in grocery retail is having on the planet, with heart-rending images of whales tied up in discarded fishing nets and floating plastic islands in the ocean circulating regularly in the media,” said Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI.

Shoppers, Abotorabi added, are now “more aware than ever” of the environmental impact their purchases can have and are making the connection every time they pick up brands in store.

As a result, FMCG companies are making plastic pledges in their strategic outlooks.

Manufacturers, according to Abotorabi, will need to continue to be seen taking action if they want their brands to remain “top of mind” with consumers and retailers.

“Packaging has become a key product attribute that marketers need to feed into predictive purchase models for their brands, alongside other factors that can influence shopper behaviour such as size, flavour, colour and price,” Abotorabi added.

Among key moves would be to demonstrate commitment to the circular economy of packaging by introducing reusable rather than single-use packaging for instance, the IRI manager concluded.

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